As I have noted in recent posts on this site, the developing trend toward anti-ESG litigation has targeted, among other corporate initiatives, company adoption of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. These and other developments have encouraged some companies to soft-pedal their initiatives in this and other areas, a phenomenon that has been described as “greenhushing.” But as noted in a recent memo from attorneys at the Wachtel Lipton law firm, while scrutiny for DEI initiatives may continue, companies and their boards properly may pursue DEI strategies as part of their companies’ overall missions. The August 19, 2023, memo in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance can be found here.Continue Reading DEI Initiatives Face Increased Scrutiny
I have noted for some time now in posts on this site the development of an ESG backlash, which has taken a variety of forms, including through both political action and litigation. For example, I recently noted two ESG backlash lawsuits that had been filed against major U.S. airlines. Now in the latest example of an ESG backlash lawsuit, a plaintiff shareholder has filed a securities suit against the retailing giant Target Corporation and certain of its directors and officers based on allegations that the defendants “betrayed both Target’s core customer base … and its investors by making false and misleading statements concerning Target’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) mandates that let to its disastrous children-and-family themed LGBT-Pride campaign.” A copy of the complaint in the new Target lawsuit can be found here.Continue Reading Target Hit with ESG-Backlash Securities Suit
In prior posts, I have noted the growing phenomenon of an anti-ESG backlash. The ESG backlash has taken the form of both legislation and litigation. In the latest examples of ESG backlash litigation, plaintiffs recently have filed two lawsuits against U.S.-based airlines based on the companies’ alleged actions supporting ESG-related initiatives. As discussed below, these latest lawsuits reconfirm that it is not the ESG laggards that are getting hit with ESG-related litigation; rather, the lawsuits are coming against companies that are taking ESG-supportive initiatives.Continue Reading Airlines Hit with ESG-Backlash Lawsuits
Many readers may have seen that earlier this week, President Biden made his first use of his Presidential veto powers to block a Congressional measure that would have reinstated Trump-era Labor Department ban on retirement plans considering factors such as climate change, social impacts or pending lawsuits when making investment choices. However, readers may not have seen that last week, in apparent anticipation of the Presidential veto, a group of governors of 19 states announced that they had formed an alliance, led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, to “push back against President Biden’s environmental, social, and corporate governance agenda that is destabilizing the American economy and the global financial system.”
The 19 state governors issued a joint statement that further explained their reasoning for forming the alliance. The March 16, 2023, press release from Governor DeSantis’s office about the alliance can be found here. The March 16, 2023, joint statement of the governors can be found here. A March 21, 2023 memo from the Cadwalader law firm about the governors’ alliance can be found here. The details of the Department of Labor guidelines, the Congressional measure, and President Biden’s veto are discussed in a March 20, 2023 post on The Nickel Blog, here.Continue Reading Governors Form Alliance to Fight ESG
On December 1, 2022, in a press release full of statements critical of the investment firm BlackRock and its CEO, Larry Fink, Jimmy Patronis, the Chief Financial Officer of Florida, announced that the Florida Treasury would begin divesting $2 billion of Florida state assets currently under management by BlackRock. The statement makes it clear that the Florida official is making the move because of his opposition to the investment firm’s activist positions, especially with respect to ESG issues. This development is the latest step in the process of the increasing politicization of ESG , a pattern that puts companies into the cross-fire as they contend with competing ESG expectations. The Florida CFO’s press December 1, 2022 press release can be found here.
Continue Reading Florida’s Politicians: Don’t Say ESG
As I noted in recent posts (for example, here), an anti-ESG backlash has been forming. The backlash has already taken a variety of forms, including anti-ESG legislation and anti-ESG litigation. Now, in what one media source called a “new front in a campaign against companies” related to ESG activities, a group of five Republican senators has sent letters to 51 large U.S. law firms warning the firms that the Senators plan to use their congressional oversight powers “to scrutinize the institutionalized antitrust violations being committed in the name of ESG.” The Senators’ letter campaign is described in a November 4, 2022 Reuters article (here). The Senators’ November 3, 2022 letters to the law firms can be found here.
Continue Reading Senators Warn Law Firms Concerning ESG-Related Advice